Car seat safety: Sleeping babies die in car seats used incorrectly – USA TODAY

Car seats can be deadly places for babies to sleep when being used incorrectly, a startling new study has found.
When looking at infant deaths in sitting devices, like car seats and strollers, researchers found that more than two-thirds occurred while in car seats. And in those cases, parents were using the car seats as directed less than 10% of the time.
The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, looked at 11,779 infant sleep-related deaths from 2004 to 2014. While only 3% of those deaths occurred in sitting devices, researchers wanted to better understand what was causing them.
Car seats “aren’t as safe as a crib or bassinet when the child is out of the car and sleeping. … There’s a lack of awareness (about this). I think every parent, including myself, has been guilty of doing this at one time or another,” study author Dr. Jeffrey Colvin told
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Among the other concerning findings: More than half of the deaths in car seats occurred when the child was at home and under the supervision of a parent.
“While car seats are important when you’re traveling with an infant, it’s best not to have the infant sleep in the car seat when you’re at home,” study author Dr. Rachel Moon said in a statement.
Children sleeping in car seats at home can fall onto a hard surface or flip onto a soft surface and suffocate, the study authors note. Improper buckling of the seat’s straps can also be fatal for infants, the researchers say.
While the study authors did not determine why the infants were in car seats when not traveling, they said it may be because some parents can’t afford a crib or bassinet or may be using car seats to hold their child while doing other things.
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Colvin also told that parents not wanting to wake their children up after a car ride may be a reason they are left in the seats.
However, when traveling and using a car seat correctly, there is no reason to worry if a baby falls asleep, Colvin added.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sleep-related deaths account for approximately 3,500 infant deaths annually. The group recommends that babies sleep facing upward on a firm, flat surface and in a shared room, but not shared bed.
“It’s not only that doctors – pediatricians – need to educate their families, the parents of their patients. They also need to have parents educate anyone who is taking care of their infant, whether it’s a grandparent, babysitter or child care provider, that car seats are not substitutes for cribs and bassinets,” Colvin said in a statement.
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